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Bearing Good Tidings

Thursday, 6 February, 2014 - 4:17 pm

Two years ago, I used this forum to tell you about a woman named Rachel at Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women, whom I had been visiting as a prison chaplain. (You can see the post at www.chabadneworleans.com/templates/blog/post.asp?AID=1203266&PostID=29057&p=1.) In response several amazing individuals expressed interest in getting involved in helping her. I have not obtained their permission so I will not publicize their names. In the end three women developed an actual friendship with her and began visiting or writing to her regularly. They became her friends and a shoulder to cry on. Others lent much needed financial support to our efforts to help her get Kosher food.  

A year later I followed up on that post with this www.chabadneworleans.com/templates/blog/post.asp?AID=1203266&PostID=36572&p=1. This inspired several others to get involved in this effort as well. Rachel’s difficult saga continued. Finally with Hashem’s help, through the assistance of the Aleph Institute (a Chabad prisoner’s advocacy and support organization) Rachel got the legal help needed to bring her nightmare to an end. These last months in prison may have been the most difficult. She was transferred to another, even more isolated facility in the northwest corner of the state, far away from her friends and support system.

Since so many expressed empathy and support for Rachel during her difficult period of incarceration, I am very happy to report to you that yesterday she was finally released and she is now on the way home to her family. I want to take this opportunity to thank all those who were involved in supporting her and our efforts to lighten her burden. It has been very special for me to witness the caring of this circle of people. The expression of true joy and celebration upon hearing of her release and seeing her here before her departure was heartwarming. May we never need to be recipients of such kindness and may our hearts always be open to those that need our help.

It is with great sadness that we mourn the recent passing of Dr. Harvey Rifkin. Harvey was a regular at several of our weekly classes for over a decade. He was also a family friend, who loved hearing about the children and their development. He was both thoughtful and intelligent. He came to study with an open mind and was a person who was actually open to change. I saw his perspective change with regard to many of the ideas that we studied throughout the years. After his retirement two years ago to his country home in St. Francisville, Harvey was not able to attend as often. He still came into town several times a month and we always enjoyed his participation. On his last few visits he had already begun to suffer from the illness that would ultimately claim his life. Our heartfelt condolences to his family. Farewell my friend Harvey. We will truly miss you!

Please view the photos below of this past Sunday’s joint program between Hadassah and Mikva Chaya Mushka. Over 35 women came together at Chabad House to explore physical and spiritual wellbeing. Lunch was sponsored by Kosher Cajun in memory of Natalie Brown.

Next Thursday night, February 13 at 7:30 PM, there will be a meeting at Chabad Metairie to discuss the Grand Purim Fest 2014 (Sunday, March 16). Please join us in helping plan and implement this spectacular event that is enjoyed by over 200 attendees each year. Please let us know that you are on board!

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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